Rebuttal man: McDonnell to respond to Obama
Governor Bob McDonnell will provide the Republican rejoinder to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address January 27, the third Virginia-based politician to provide a presidential counterpoint in just five years.
Back in 2006, McDonnell's predecessor, Tim Kaine, gave the Democratic response following then-President George Bush's State of the Union address. Senator Jim Webb did the Dem honors in 2007.
"It's a big deal," says UVA political guru Larry Sabato. "McDonnell can crow just as loudly as Kaine did."
Sabato says he'd predicted that either newly elected Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, or McDonnell would be picked to respond for the Republicans.
"It signifies that the national party leadership wants this person to be the face of the party," explains Sabato.
Yet, the pundit also points out that the task brings some political peril because Obama is a good communicator and a tough act to follow.
"No one compares to the president at the State of the Union address," says Sabato, contrasting the pageantry of addressing the full Congress, while the other party's standard bearer is likely to be alone, standing in front of a fireplace.
McDonnell has already made national headlines this week for attempting to reverse one of his predecessor's final and most controversial acts: sending convicted murderer Jens Soering back to Germany where his incarceration would only be guaranteed for two years. McDonnell won the election in November with nearly 59 percent of the vote. Will this solidify his role as a rising star?
"It's better to be picked than not picked," says Sabato. "And I don't think it'll hurt him."